California Connect|Regional Economic Alliances|Business Resources|Careers|Automotive|Energy/Environment|Travel|Entertainment
more sections: 
Featured Advertisement
Never Say NO
By: Barton Goldsmith

If you want to exceed your current levels, never say 'NO". When a customer calls with a complaint and asks for assistance, never say "NO". When a staff member is stressed out and needs support, never say "NO". When you are saturated with your business and your spouse needs attention, never say "NO."

Dealing with customers in this manner will turn someone who is disappointed in your product or service into a cheerleader for your company. It's a simple system; train your customer service team to find an answer for the disgruntled person without ever saying "NO". This may take a little research, and you should develop a list of solutions and alternatives. For example, rather than saying "NO", say that you will work on their problem and you will find a suitable solution. You can also say something like, "We are unable to provide that service," but don't say "NO". The word "NO" gives rise to too many emotional issues and can put people off.

Some people will ask too much, and at some point you have to cut them off, but do it without saying "NO". In addition, point out all that you have given and all that you have attempted to do to right their problem. Help them to accept that they have been taken care of by comparing this experience with other not so supportive customer service like the kind they get from the telephone company.

Eric Onnen, CEO of Santa Barbara Airbus, has used this system successfully for several years. He believes that "Never Say No "It's about finding alternatives," says Onnen. 'We can't accommodate everyone, so we find or create alternatives." His team brainstorms each and every difficult customer service problem. Each new alternative is added to their research list and can be used over and over again. To solve some issues, he has created strategic alliances with competitors and alternative services. In addition, he puts his customers first and listens to their needs, as well as any complaints.

Onnen goes on to say, "You know that you have to inform the customer, but you do it without saying "NO." This can morph into more business for your company." For example, if one of his customers wanted to go to Ventura
(about 25 miles from Santa Barbara), rather than saying "NO", he says, "We don't offer that service, but tell me a bit more about what you need. How many people do you need to transport?" The customer needed to transport 25, and Onnen responded by saying that she needed a charter bus, and that his company did provide that service. The customer was thrilled, and it was a nice little piece of business that would not have happened had he just said "NO."

No "NO's" to Your Team
If you treat your team members like customers, your external customers (the people that buy your product or service) will become the number one priority throughout your team. As leaders, we tend to expect our people to do what they're told and not rock the boat. That attitude creates an internal separation between the leader and their staff. In order to prevent this chasm, learn not to say "NO"; to your team members. Use the same techniques discussed above and watch changes occur before your very eyes. Your team will feel the difference immediately, and will project that feeling to everyone they come in contact with. When team member asks for something that may be inappropriate, rather than saying ìNOî, learn to ask powerful questions of them. Powerful questions create clarity, and this will help both of you find a balance and strengthen your relationship, as well as your business.

State this new vision clearly; this will help both you and your team fully absorb it. When training your staff to "Never Say No", also train yourself to "Never Say No" to your team. The more you live the idea, the easier it will be for the team to actualize it.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., Goldsmith Consulting. For more information call: toll free at (866) 5-BARTON. or web site at: